I scribbled lots of ideas on scrap paper, edges of phone notes and in my writing notebook, and tried out a possible technique with this image.
The first definite concrete step I took, however, was to draw up the dimensions in a vector program (Inkscape, open source and free), reduce them and print out a few pages with the proportionate diagram on them. The brief was for a design to wrap around the book but not extend onto the inside flaps of the cover.
I did my thumbnails in pencil on those diagrams and eventually found a few I thought worked best.
I then put paper (some plain typing paper, some drawing paper) over the thumbnails on top of my lightbox (one of my most-used Christmas presents) and drew roughs of the designs with sepia ink and a dip pen.
I did the same with the font Small Beer Press had provided, printing it out at several sizes and going over it with pen and ink. I also did a bit of scribbling on some scratchboard. Then I scanned the drawings in and messed around with them in Photoshop. It wasn’t quite as much work as it sounds like, but I was having a great time and getting very inky.